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273 || Alisa Kaplan: Still Room for Hope After Rape and Sexual Assault

Alisa Kaplan was raped and sexually assaulted by three friends when she was only 16. When I read her harrowing story in her new book, Still Room for Hope I immediately felt a connection to her. I am not a sexual assault survivor, but I have survived other things: middle school for starters, then a brutal eating disorder, binge drinking, and drug use, to name a few.

But it was Alisa’s fight for survival that resonated with me.

Her book, Still Room for Hope, (Hachette Book Group) chronicles her fierce fight that began when she was raped and sexually assaulted at just 16 years old. After the details of the horrific event remerged in a video, she fought for justice. She fought for control and understanding through a hung jury, a second trial, and an aggressive smear campaign by the assailants’ families. Then she fought for anonymity in the limbo of drinking and a nasty meth addiction.

But now Alisa’s fight looks a lot different. Since she has found faith, she fought and overcame her addiction, and now fights daily for forgiveness, trust, and advocation. Daily she fights to forgive her attackers and she fights to forgive herself. She fights to trust others and she fights to defeat the glorification of violence against women in our culture.

But mostly she fights—relentlessly—to advocate for victims of rape and sexual assault, though she knows healing does not come easily or quickly.

“I didn’t transition from being a victim to being a survivor until I started sharing my story,” said Alisa. “Until I reached outward and started helping others, a key piece of my healing was missing.”

Finding Healing from Rape and Sexual Assault through Storytelling

A large part of Alisa’s recovery came when she began publicly sharing her story in 2012, more than a decade after the rape and sexual assault.

Why so long? Because until she met and experienced God’s divine healing, the fear of sharing was too great. The first time Alisa shared her story was in front of lawyers bent on proving her a liar. The trial was a brutal example of the bullying that often happens to victims of sexual assault. She was traumatized, and convinced her story would always be received with negativity and disbelief. She remained the Jane Doe of the high-profile case of 2002 until she met Jesus and realized the power of the truth and Jesus’ ultimate authority.

Now when she shares her story, the reaction is dramatically different.

“If you have been raped, you need to know you’re not alone,” said Alisa. “You need to know that it wasn’t your fault.”

That’s the first thing Alisa says when she tells her story. She speaks passionately from her experience of utter loneliness and shameful guilt. She wants desperately for victims of rape and sexual assault to find the healing she has finally found, and to move beyond the shame and guilt that often comes with being raped or assaulted.

When she first shared her story publicly, she recalls that “it was like God was speaking through me…I could see how engaged the audience was, and afterward so many other survivors came up to me to share their stories. It was key to my recovery.”

Trust and Forgiveness After Rape and Sexual Assault

“Trust issues are one of the hardest things to deal with on a daily basis,” Alisa said. “I still have to pray through it every morning when I wake up.”

And how could you expect anything different from someone who has been through so much?

Forgiveness, perhaps the most vital and most difficult ingredient of healing, was a notion that plagued Alisa constantly when she realized Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

“Forgiveness was the hardest part—forgiving the three guys, but also forgiven myself for any role I felt I played in the sexual assault.”

Now, her forgiving heart is turned toward her attackers.
“I hope that each of the men reads Still Room to Hope, so they will know that I forgive them,” Alisa said. “I hope they have forgiven themselves like I have forgiven myself.

Alisa’s book, Still Room for Hope, is available as an ebook and in print on Amazon and a range of other book retailers.

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One Comment

  1. Was deeply moved by the Story of Alisa Kaplan published in an Indian Christian magazine Called “Vashti” (www.Vashtimagazine.com). Sad to see mankind become like doggish animals. May God bless her with needed strength and grace to move on in life. Thanks!

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